Duke Community Standard

Duke University is a community dedicated to scholarship, leadership, and service and to the principles of honesty, fairness, respect, and accountability. Citizens of this community commit to reflect upon and uphold these principles in all academic and nonacademic endeavors, and to protect and promote a culture of integrity. 

To uphold the Duke Community Standard:

  • I will not lie, cheat, or steal in my academic endeavors;

  • I will conduct myself honorably in all my endeavors; and

  • I will act if the Standard is compromised.

Students' Obligation to Act with Respect to the Duke Community Standard

The Duke Community Standard (DCS) stresses the commitment that students share with all members of the community to enhance the climate for honesty, fairness, respect, and accountability at Duke University. Students affirm their commitment to foster this climate by signing a pledge that includes taking constructive action if they witness or know about behavior they perceive to be inconsistent with the DCS, which may include violation of university policies. Although there are no disciplinary sanctions associated with the failure to act, students are nonetheless expected to take action to do something as a responsibility of membership in the Duke community.

The university recognizes that it is not always easy to act in these situations, but several alternatives are available to suit a student's level of comfort and confidence. These alternatives are not mutually exclusive.

  • Speaking directly with the individual exhibiting the behavior, both to gain clarity about the situation and to inform the individual about the concern.

  • Publicly calling attention to the behavior as it is occurring.

  • For incidents involving social behaviors, alerting residence hall, Student Affairs, or other university staff. The information provided will give staff an opportunity to address the matter informally or through appropriate formal channels.

  • For cases involving academic integrity, alerting the instructor that cheating may be occurring in the course. This alert can be in any form, including anonymous notification, and the reporting student will not be identified. The information provided will allow the faculty member to consider corrective measures, in consultation with the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, and to address the topic with the class or suspected student(s).

  • Directly alerting staff in the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards at (919) 684-6938 or conduct@duke.edu, who will confer with the faculty member involved, if an academic issue, or with the reporting student(s), strategizing next steps. Maintaining the confidentiality of the source is possible, but may limit the extent of action that can be taken.

The Context of the Duke Community Standard

The honor code at Duke is named the community standard because community is at the center of our conception of what it means to act honorably. Community entails a sense of connectedness to others and their welfare, feeling part of Duke University every day and being responsible for its continual improvement. Community refers as well to a feeling of connection to the city in which we are located. It posits the counterbalancing of group benefit with individual needs and wants, and a Duke identity with the many personal identities based on demographics and interest. The kind of environment we strive to achieve is one in which civility (but not docility) reigns; an environment in which ideas are promulgated, and challenged, in a stimulating give and take; an environment in which learning (whether from peers, faculty, administrators, or others in the Duke and broader communities) is accomplished with openness, honesty, and respect.

Citizens of the Duke community commit to acting with purpose, civility, and intention, both with personal decision-making and with interactions with each member of this community.  Choosing to be a citizen of the Duke community means acknowledging the value of each member, participating in active reflection and asking the question, "How do my actions impact others?"

The honor code at Duke is named the community standard because it expresses our institution's core values and a concomitant set of expectations for behavior. Because behavior is derivative of fundamental values, the standard applies off campus as well as on. The principles it articulates, while lofty in one sense, are firmly grounded in individual decisions made on the ground every day about every aspect of undergraduate life, in academic and co-curricular activities alike: in the classroom, residence halls, K-ville, off-campus apartment complexes, Myrtle Beach, Paris, and wherever else students may go. In addition, the standard asks that students not only reflect on their own behavior, as important as that is, but that they also act to encourage the integrity of their peers. By inspiring and supporting each other, students can shape their environment so that it reflects the ideals expressed in the Duke Community Standard.

The Standard, therefore, expresses our goals for undergraduate education in the broadest sense and is foundational to undergraduate life at Duke. It is followed by an equally important pledge that students sign as members of the community.

Duke University seeks to engage all students in its tradition of honor, a tradition that defines the institution and helps to guide students during their college careers and beyond. The students here today, who are the beneficiaries of the efforts of those who preceded them, have an extraordinarily important role to play in perpetuating and strengthening this tradition. We welcome, and count on, your involvement.

The History of the Duke Community Standard

In 1999-2000, Duke participated in a national survey through the Center for Academic Integrity. Through responses from undergraduate students, as well as from faculty and staff, the survey assessed the climate of academic integrity at Duke in comparative context with other institutions. As a result of the findings, the provost formed the Academic Integrity Council (AIC) in 2001 by appointing representatives from across the community whose charge was to review academic integrity policies and practices and make recommendations to improve the climate of integrity on campus.

An early goal of the AIC was to review the existing Honor Code, which had been in effect for the undergraduate community since 1993. The AIC determined that the Honor Code needed revision to make it shorter while embracing all aspects of a student's life at Duke. A major element of the revision was the inclusion of the fundamental values that must inform the definition of a community of honor.

This Duke Community Standard was proposed to the faculty councils of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the Pratt School of Engineering, as well as to the Duke Student Government. It was approved for the undergraduate community and implemented in the fall of 2003. The Standard was also incorporated into the code of each graduate and professional school of the university and, thus, represents the values we uphold as an institution.

Duke University is committed to ongoing evaluation of principles, policies, and practices, and to lively conversation about issues of integrity. Thus, Duke participated again in a national survey on academic integrity in the fall of 2005 and in intensive discussions of academic and social integrity from summer 2006 through spring 2007. The result of these continuing and broadened discussions was a revised Community Standard, put before the undergraduate student body in a student government referendum of April 2007 and overwhelmingly approved. Implemented in summer 2007, the new Duke Community Standard differs from its predecessor chiefly in its level of commitment to taking action (see Students Obligation to Act with Respect to the Duke Community Standard above).

In the spring of 2011, Duke University again surveyed undergraduate students about integrity, this time expanding beyond an academic focus to additional questions about integrity in other domains (i.e., social, work, and civic) inside and outside the classroom. In-depth focus interviews were also conducted with a sample of graduating seniors. Results showed a marked reduction in academic dishonesty in three key areas that were identified as problem areas in the 2005 survey: fabricating or falsifying a bibliography, falsifying or fabricating lab data, and copying or paraphrasing a few sentences without appropriate attribution. One area of concern that emerged from the 2011 survey was an increase in reported unauthorized collaboration. There was also a gap between students' perceptions of the prevalence of dishonesty across these multiple domains and student self-reported rates of engaging in dishonest acts within these domains. Duke University will continue efforts to narrow students' perception of the frequency of academic dishonesty and actual self-reported rates of cheating and other dishonest acts.

A Statement of Principles

The Duke Community Standard expresses a standard for behavior a set of expectations of students who claim membership in Duke's learning community. All incoming undergraduates, upon admittance to Duke, are required to sign a pledge to adhere to these values and to conduct themselves in accordance with these values throughout their undergraduate careers. Likewise, upon completion of each academic assignment, students may be asked to reaffirm their commitment to the Duke Community Standard by signing a statement indicating that they have adhered to the Duke Community Standard in completing the assignment.

The Duke Community Standard, thus, is a statement of principles. The specific policies, or rules and regulations of the university, define the conduct for which students can be held accountable.

University Regulations and the Disciplinary Process

Duke University has high expectations for students’ scholarship and conduct. Each student is subject to the rules and regulations of the university currently in effect, or which are put into effect from time to time by the appropriate authorities of the university. At the same time, the individual is responsible for decisions and choices within the framework of the regulations of the community, as Duke does not assume in loco parentis relationships.

Students, in accepting admission, indicate their willingness to subscribe to and be governed by these rules and regulations. They acknowledge the right of the university to take disciplinary action, including suspension or expulsion, for failure to abide by the regulations or for other conduct determined unsatisfactory or detrimental to the university community.

Responsibility for prescribing and enforcing rules and regulations governing student conduct rests ultimately with the Board of Trustees of Duke University and, by delegation, with administrative officers of the university. In the undergraduate schools, and in the university as a whole, many of these rules have been established over the years by cooperative action between students, faculty, and administrative officers. Representative student organizations, such as student governments and conduct boards, and more recently, community-wide bodies of students, faculty, and administrators, have initiated proposals for policies and rules necessary to assure satisfactory standards in academic and nonacademic conduct. These proposals have been accepted by university officers and have become a substantial, if not all-inclusive, body of rules governing student life at Duke. For current regulations, refer to the The Duke Community Standard in Practice: A Guide for Students.